Beautiful grounds at King Rama IX Park — Photo courtesy of Raquel Mogado
Bangkok is not noted for its green spaces or public parks. But there are a few options to select from if the city heat, noise and traffic are wearing you down and you need a bit of rejuvenation.
While most tourists opt for the centrally located Lumpini Park or make the trek out to the open spaces of Bang Krachao, we recommend getting out to the lesser-known Suan Luang Rama IX Park, which is the largest green space you will find inside the city proper.
The Rama IX Park occupies several hundred acres of land up in northeastern Bangkok, and it's quite popular with Thais as an after-work or weekend escape.
The park came into existence in 1987, built for the then 60th birthday celebrations of present king Bhumibol. The sprawling property features some beautiful pavilions, a large lake and expansive gardens, as well as plenty of spots for exercise.
Pavilion at King Rama IX Park, Bangkok — Photo courtesy of Raquel Mogado
In the center of the park stands the golden spired Ratchamangkhala Pavilion that looks like a futuristic spaceship. This is actually a gallery full of exhibits and photos pertaining to the Thai royalty. The pavilion is fronted by a large lake, which you can take pedal boats out on to admire the floating lotus gardens.
The park is also home to an extensive array of different types of gardens. There is a botanical garden, which features a massive collection of plant species, along with an herbarium and a fern and orchids greenhouse.
There are also international garden areas that are modelled after some of the great gardens of the world. The French garden, for example, features sculptures and a colonnade; the Italian garden has fountains; the Chinese garden has a temple and wall around it; and the American garden comes in a geodesic dome with cacti, all very atmospheric.
Cycling in Rama IX Park, Bangkok — Photo courtesy of Raquel Mogado
The park is quite photogenic, as besides the gardens, there are some great architectural wonders, especially the lovely Thakon Phrakia Pavilion that showcases Thai teak design and sits in the middle of a lotus pond.
Overall, there are over 40 species of lotuses and water lilies in the park, and there are plants that come from every one of Thailand's 77 provinces.
While most of the visitors here just come to chill out and enjoy the greenery and peace and quiet, there are also those who come here for a workout. The park has plenty of space for bicycling and jogging, and there is even a sports center with a swimming pool and tennis court.
In front of the sports complex, there's a musical performance area that is occasionally the scene of concerts, and this is the site of the park's most noted event – the Flower Festival – which takes place here every December.
Not only is this a great escape, but at 10 baht a head entry fee, it has to be one of the best deals in town, if not in the country!
Getting exercise in Rama IX Park — Photo courtesy of Raquel Mogado